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Rolled Glass Windows: Classic Vintage Beauty

Rolled glass was first introduced by Englishman James Hartley in 1847. Also called rolled plate glass or figure rolled glass, it is made by one of two methods. Either molten glass is dropped onto a flat surface and rolled into a sheet by a single iron roller (single-rolled) or passed between two rollers (double-rolled) to form a usually thick glass plate. Rolled glass is similar to plate glass but produced on a much smaller scale.

Figure rolled glass is produced in the same fashion except this time one of the rollers is embossed with a pattern that is transferred to the glass and remains as it cools. You will probably find rolled glass wherever vintage opportunities arise, anywhere from churches to old town storefronts to train stations.

The beauty of rolled glass lies in its relative obscurity. Because of the manner and thickness in which it is rolled, light passing through rolled glass can have a slightly wavy appearance. If you’ve ever sat down to eat in an old cafe with wooden windows and brick walls you may have noticed the way light passing through the windows dances on the wall. That is a rolled glass window (to accentuate the effect, a pattern is often added to the roller resulting in “ripple” glass). They allow you to see through them but have as little as half the translucency of standard windows.

Rolled glass windows most likely passed out of favor in the modern era because they do not lend themselves to inexpensive mass production and uniform clarity. Also, in the 1950’s Alistair Pilkington invented float glass and changed the way window glass was made to this day.

Rolled glass windows are hard to come by these days and are more likely than not salvaged from old buildings and homes.

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